Saturday, March 14, 2009

fame

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Maybe fame is a good entry point ... one Dharma gate among the 84,000 (infinite). On the surface, the glamor and wealth and power and capped-tooth superficialities of fame may seem antithetical to Buddhism's invocations, but I think the ordinary way is to long for some sort of recognition, some version of Andy Warhol's "fifteen minutes of fame."

And my feeling is that it's better to 'fess up and go with the flow. Countering such longings with philosophical or religious observations may be good, but is "good" really good enough? I doubt it. So maybe, if sticking beans up your nose is appealing, the best thing to do is to try it and see.

Not everyone wants a Ferrari or an endless supply of drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll. Not everyone wants to make others jump when s/he says "jump." But the acceptance and adulation and sometimes effectiveness that can come with fame ... who doesn't want to feel loved and exalted within some social setting? It's less lonely -- or at any rate it may look that way. Still, as Oscar Wilde observed very-approximately, "If you don't want to be lonely, never get married."

Gonna be The (Wo)man! Respected, loved, listened to ... someone to be reckoned with ... for fifteen minutes at least. Somehow the alternative, whatever it is, is not acceptable.

OK. Maybe it's just how we are all hard-wired.

But what IS the alternative? Without knowing the alternative, what meaning does this fame have? Without knowing the alternative, fame remains wispy and open to attack.

OK. Enter into the world of fame. Achieve what is achievable. Accept whatever applause is excited. Believe it. Be a star, whether large or small.

And now ... isn't it true without any smug or virtuous criticism attached: Now what? Is it really enough to rely on what is currently relied on ... friends and enemies extolling or critiquing, a swirling social environment, a swelling bank account, a wonderful haircut or wardrobe? Now what?

I suppose it's a risky business, suggesting anyone might go ahead and believe themselves. Fame in its ordinary meaning is so enthralling that there may never be a way out. But don't people believe themselves anyway? I think it's better to admit what is currently true and move from there. Fame separates, but does it work?

Ah well, I'm too tired to make the argument very well. It just seems to me that human beings are already famous -- more famous than they could possibly imagine. Without them, how could the sun rise in the East? This is not just some airy-fairy, religious, feel-good argument. It is just true ...

But I don't suppose it's true unless someone actualizes and acknowledges it.
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